3rd Annual All Barbers League Charity Game
Converse teams up with ballin’ barbers from NYC for a common goal.
by Franklyn Calle
The barbershop is more than just a place where you go in to get a haircut. It’s more of a small community in which you can go in and talk about just anything. Sports, music, current events, political ideas and such are reigning issues discussed at the barbershop. Most guys won’t just let any barber cut their hair. You get the idea that your barber is the one who has a good sense for the contours of your head and is the only one you can trust with it. Barbershops have a social impact on just about everyone, regardless of age.
Malik Morris, a barber for over 20 years, has nourished this idea and decided to built from it. The Jamaica, Queens native has created an innovative method of giving back to the community, specially for the at-risk youth throughout the New York City area. Instead of just trying to find a way of simply pouring money into a foundation for the youth, he has created an All-Barbers League along the five boroughs. Last weekend, I attended the 3rd annual fundraiser held at Baruch College. The event featured a 3-on-3 basketball tournament consisting of 10 barbershops from around the city, this year even a shop from New Jersey participated. Basically, the rules were much of the same you would see at a regular basketball game. Pretty much every team needed to have at least one barber and the other teammates had to be members or clients of that specific barbershop. All proceeds went to the Cutting for Kids Foundation. Free haircuts, food and giveaways also highlighted the day. I personally liked the whole idea since it has its own unique twist and motive to it.
“This whole tournament started by trying to build a website barbershop101.com, which is a free website on how to cut hair. I created the basketball league to help me generate money to help create the site to teach kids how to cut hair, morals and values of life, the importance of banking, and just kindness to others,” says Morris. “Barbershops are the network I use to help me spread the information out to people in different communities for the families that need a little help who may have kids who need some guidance. The barbershop is the key that I use to make sure the information gets distributed to the kids in the community.”
Being from New York City myself and growing up in Fort Greene, Brooklyn (it has changed tremendously in the last 10 years as the cultivation of Downtown Brooklyn continues, although you still realize you are in the hood by walking in certain streets), I can genuinely say that it is very easy for youngsters to head down the wrong path quickly. All you have to do is look around and see what some of the people you have grown up with are currently getting into, and you’ll see what you are dealing with. That’s when decisions have to be made. And unfortunately due to the wrong influences, many end up making the wrong moves and fall between the cracks. That explains why the All Barbers League specifically strives to reach out to the young community.
“I target 17 and under because those are considered kids. Not that I wouldn’t help anyone else. You know, whether you in high school or elementary school, if you are a kid trying to stay focus we are going to try to get you in the right path and just do good deeds for other people.”
It was a struggle economically for Morris when he first launched the movement a couple of years back. He had to come out his own pocket for just about everything involved. “In the beginning I kind of used my own money. This year Converse actually came in. I really want to give them thanks because they came in and they really helped me out by sponsoring a lot of the stuff like the banners, jerseys, sneakers, giveaways, and prizes. It was tough and it’s a struggle for me but I saw the bigger cause,” said Morris very confidently as he already plans out future events. “In the end, its going to get it where I need it to go and Converse is a stepping stone to get my vision out there to people.”
Morris just wants to save as many unprivileged teens as he possibly can from the streets and its various social issues. “I want to work with more kids and I want to be able to set up foundations where I can just give away food to people. There’s are so many programs out there. I want to be able to reach those programs and let them see what we are doing so we could teach these kids skills, teach them how to read and write, educate them, show them kindness and just be some inspirations in their lives. The barbershops are always going to be there so I’m looking to them to help me get the word to people,” he says. Morris visits group homes regularly, where he cuts hair for free while also teaching life skills and the importance of an education as part of his Cutting for Kids Foundation duties.
So who won that tournament mentioned earlier? The trophy went to Money Train, but as you may have come to realize by now — the purpose for this event was beyond athletic competition. “I put a lot of smiles on people faces today,” said Morris as the crowd exited the gymnasium. “We gave away free food, haircuts, shirts, sneakers and maybe they’ll take that same energy and share it somewhere else.”
It isn’t necessary for you to be a wealthy individual or a professional basketball player to do any philanthropic work. As barbers for around New York City demonstrated, the game of basketball can help get together people from all walks of life for a common purpose. More than likely this will not be the last time you hear from Morris or his All Barbers League. They seem to be in it for the long run.
Props to Malik Morris and his staff for putting together the event as well as for their efforts towards helping the youth.
(Photo Credit: Shazza Nakim)